I often say that I make some of the best tiramisu but honestly it has nothing to do with me or some secret recipe. The key is using mascarpone you make yourself. It's not hard to do and is much less expensive then buying it in a store. So here's the first part in a two part series on making your own best tiramisu...
Mascarpone with tartaric acid
1 quart light cream or half-and-half (you can also use a pint of each).
1/8-1/4 teaspoon tartaric acid
1. Heat cream to 185°F (or more- up to about 200, just make sure it's AT LEAST 185).
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon tartaric acid and stir for several minutes. The mixture will slowly thicken into a runny cream-of-wheat consistency, with tiny flecks of curd. If the cream does not coagulate, add a speck more of the tartaric acid and stir for another 5 minutes. Be careful not to add too much tartaric acid or a grainy texture will result.
3. Line a colander with a double layer of high quality cheesecloth. Pour the curd into the colander and drain for 1 hour for a traditional mascarpone texture. Drain for up to 12 hours in a refrigerator for a whipped cream cheese texture.
If you're worried that you've gotten enough curd and used enough tartaric acid simply drain the first time into another clean pot. If you didn't put enough tartaric in the first time you can just repeat the process with the stuff that drained through.
4. Place the finished cheese in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: about 1 pound